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January 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Politics of DEMA

and an odd fellowship with the oil industry

from the January, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA) is a trade association with the mission to work in the interest of the dive industry -- people for whom diving is a business. It doesn't represent sport divers, the customers of the businesses it represents, though it works to recruit new divers and keep divers diving.

DEMA takes positions on public and private policy, and has taken a strong stance on some issues important to divers -- seeking protection for Goliath grouper, supporting the eradication of lionfish in Florida, and opposing the cruise ship dock to be built in Grand Cayman.

One might think the interests of divers and businesses are identical, but last fall, we were puzzled by a DEMA policy alert about an omnibus energy conservation bill winding its way through California's legislature. Besides seeking increased energy efficiency in buildings and requiring California utilities to get more renewable energy by 2030, it contained a provision that called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks by 2030.

Where Did They Find This "Expert"?

That last provision caught DEMA's eye, leading it to tell its members, "For the recreational diving industry, this legislation could have a detrimental impact on the household budgets of [those] who travel within the state to dive . . . divers could make fewer trips, purchase fewer certifications and buy less equipment. SB 350 will make it more difficult for all business operators, including diving operators, to do business in California." They quoted Rusty Berry, owner of Scuba Schools of America in Montclair, CA, as saying the bill "could disrupt budgets to the point that they'll have to choose between getting to work and going diving."

Berry, who has a litany of web complaints about how he treats his customers, isn't much of an expert on how the consequences of this complicated bill would affect drivers 15 years from now, but DEMA chose to get on his bandwagon and asked its members to defeat the entire bill. The petroleum industry led the fight against the bill, joined by just about anyone else who profits from automobiles' burning gas. DEMA joined these folks, who say to hell with reducing carbon emissions and ocean acidification, we want your cars to run on oil and gas, not electricity, solar power or anything else....

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